Sabaton – Swedish Empire Live CD/DVD – Nuclear Blast Records
By John Knowles
The Metal community as a whole should take note of the latest live offering from Sabaton, and notice all of the winning elements of an amazing live recording and video. Perhaps its best not to end there, but to reflect on the band’s entire career. Consider the relentless touring, their fun, exciting and powerful shows, anthemic songs of human triumph and will, and the humility to give credit to the greats in a very unapologetic way with songs like “Metal Crüe” and “Metal Ripper.” These are the winning elements of a band at the top of their game, and on Swedish Empire Live, the band has arrived to share this all with you over the course of multiple sets and four total hours of footage!
According to the album’s press release, the band was honored as Polish citizens of honor, so it made perfect sense for Sabaton to record their first official live document in the country that has reportedly supported the band like no other. Swedish Empire Live showcases the band’s headlining gig at the renowned Polish Woodstock festival in 2012 in front of more than 600.000 enthusiastic fans! Undoubtedly this impressive live collection is one of the most significant live offerings this band has ever delivered, or any other band for that matter. By contrast Nightwish just released an impressive live collection as well in front of a crowd of 85,000, but even that is a far cry from over half a million. As you watch the band play through fan favorites like “Ghost Division,” “Cliffs of Gallipoli,” and “40:1” it is clear that Sabaton have the majority of the crowd completely captured under their spell, while leaving many speechless. Therein lies the unmatched appeal of this band. They bring such power, emotion, and raw energy to the stage that fans leave different than when they arrived. Sabaton provide a true concert “experience,” and this DVD captures that its truest essence.
Headlining the polish Woodstock Festival of course provided the biggest screens possible, the best production and of course the biggest crowd, but Sabaton brought the rest, and that was great songs, top notch musicianship, and an all around great time. The band opened the show with their typical opening track, “The March to War,” and proceeded to tear right into “Ghost Division,” “Uprising,” and “Gott Mit Uns,” the latter of which was featured on the bands latest studio release, Carolus Rex. The level of energy the band maintains throughout their set is astonishing, and at no point do they let up. Long time fans of the band will recognize some new faces on stage that seem to have no trouble fitting right in. Joining founding members Joakim Brodén (Vocals) and Pär Sundström (Bass) are Chris Rörland and Thobbe Englund on guitar and Robban Bäck on drums. Joakim even makes it a point during the show to point out how well the new guys have been received. Their welcome is well deserved as these guys rip through the set with ease, and maintain the trademark Sabaton ferocity on stage. Both guitarists even show off their vocal talents with solo spots on “Gott Mit Uns.” Certainly the main driving force and energy supply comes from lead vocalist Joakim who sings each song as if summoning a battalion to war. He manages such conviction in the lyrics while still allowing for some great on stage banter from the heart. Related to the line-up changes is the lack of a keyboardist on stage due to the departure of Daniel Myhr. The band performs to synth tracks, and nails every nuance with stunning perfection!
Even in the live setting these guys pull off the emotional depth of tracks like “Cliffs of Gallipoli” and “Price of a Mile.” Following these moments of more heart wrenching tracks the band bounces right back with snarling intensity on “The Art of War” and “Primo Victoria.” Although nothing can compare to a Sabaton show in person, this DVD captures the energy and excitement of a band in the best way possible, and immerses you into a memorable experience even in your living room! Following the bands final song, “Metal Crüe,” the Woodstock promoter enters the stage to rally the crowd into a unified cry for more. Taking the time prior to the gig to visit the promoters in person was a huge win for the band, as it is clear that by the end of their set they had commanded huge levels of respect, and the Polish Woodstock festival was immeasurably thankful for them. At just shy of the two-hour mark the band returned on stage to rally the “Panzer Battalion” and call it a night, albeit a night no fan will ever forget.
This is a must own for Sabaton fans and fans of great metal alike. Typically recommending a live album to new listeners is not common, but with Sabaton, a live recording like this might be the very thing to win over countless hordes of fans. Also included on the DVD are clips from shows in Gothenburg, London and Oberhausen running the collection at more than 4 hours in total! This a landmark release for the band that must be seen to believe.
Official Sabaton Website
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